Motherhood and matriculation

August 3, 2015

When Hala Ashour’s three children sit down to do homework, so does she.

“I believe in being busy, and getting educated, better than being busy with any other thing,” she said.

Ashour takes classes at Johnson County Community College because they fit around a schedule that puts her children first, she said.

“JCCC offers classes at different times,” she explained. “I tried different times until I found the very best times that worked with my family.”

Finding an academic home

Ashour is a native of Jordan. She received a degree in computer science in her native country, but her husband’s job as a physician took them Tennessee, Kansas, California and then back to Kansas.

For the last eight years, she has lived in the Kansas City area. Shortly after arriving she signed up for the Johnson County Adult Education program, learning English as a Second Language from 2008 to 2010.

“I loved it,” Ashour said. “It was a very great experience. I learned a lot, in a short time, in a very nice, safe environment.”

After a brief hiatus, she returned to Johnson County Community College to take classes.

It was a big step from ESL classes to credit offerings. But Ashour found the courage to take the risk.

“There were lots of moments, especially at the beginning of registration to classes, to feel it was so hard to keep going,” she said. “But my husband helped me go through it and plan it, leading to a better time for me and my family. He is my motivation.”

Seeking knowledge in ‘baby steps’

JCCC counselors also helped her through registration and early difficulties.

“They understand my situation. They consider that my family is the most important thing to me, and I want a class in a certain time period. I’m also part-time; I cannot take more than six hours a semester,” she said.

“The counselors have also helped me realize – go through everything in baby steps,” she said.

Those “baby steps” led her to a new interest and possible vocation. The original plan, Ashour said, was to take computer classes to update her skills in computer science and then pursue a master’s degree.

Surprisingly, her attention went elsewhere.

“I found myself loving the graphic design program at JCCC, and now I’m planning on finishing that (associate) degree,” Ashour said. “Then I’ll think about the master’s degree.”

Looking to the future

She said JCCC was a great fit because it was “convenient, close, affordable, with great programs and very nice stuff.”

Her studies will help prepare her for a life when her children are on their own.

“The most important thing in my life right now is my family, my kids,” she said. “But when they grow up, I have to have a career for myself.”